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An important part of Durham's commercial architectural heritage is the unique red brick construction used in tobacco warehouses and factories at the turn of the last century. Featuring rows of chimneys, decorative bands of brickwork, and stepped facades pierced by large windows, these buildings are monuments to the mason's art.

Downtown Durham is ringed by these flamboyantly decorated buildings. Some of them have already been creatively adapted into shopping centers - Brightleaf Square - and apartments - West Village and North Duke Street Condos.

The American Tobacco Factory at the corner of Pettigrew and Blackwell Streets, across from Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and the Liggett and Myers Factory on Main Street, between Brightleaf Square and Downtown, have thousands of square feet in classic buildings that are the legacy of the tobacco industry that made the Bull City boom in the 19th Century. They are now being redeveloped into exciting and unique commercial and residential space for 21st Century Durham.

HPSD's 2000 Old Durham Tour explored the tobacco factories around Downtown just at the beginning of the current surge of redevelopment activity. A free Walking Tour of Tobacco Heritage leaves the Durham Farmer's Market at 10:00am the 3rd Saturday of every month from April to November.


watts and yuille warehouses brightleaf square
The Watts and Yuille Warehouses are the home of Brightleaf Square, one of the first adaptive reuses of tobacco buildings in Durham. The shopping center opened in the early 1980s, and is a popular destination for shopping and dining. The buildings were erected in 1904 and have a total of 72 corbelled chimneys! Inside, the original beams and bricks create a unique atmosphere. The Warehouses are listed on the National Register of Historic places.


west village

west village


West Village is an apartment, office, and business development in five building that were part of the Liggett & Myers Factory. The Toms and Hicks Warehouses were built before 1903, the Cooper Building in 1910, and the Flowers Building in 1916. Apartments in the Main Street Bridge of the Cooper Building and offices in the upper floors of the Power House have great views of Downtown.

west village


bullington warehouse north duke street condos

The Bullington Warehouse was built in 1927, the last of the big brick warehouses. Its design is a streamlined version of the tobacco buildings of the earier 20th century. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Today it is filled with condominium apartments.